You never know where you’ll meet friends, but with thousands of people available and free food around, it’s likely you could make at least a new contact or two.
Such was the case for East Tennessee State University student Malashia Solomon, a freshman majoring in psychology with a pre-med path, as she wandered through the ETSU Pride Week Community Showcase event in the Borchuck Plaza in front of Sherrod Library Wednesday.
The showcase ran from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and was sponsored by the ETSU National Alumni Association and Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
Dozens of businesses set up to offer food, useful items and make it known to students they exist and can provide services if needed.
“I think it’s awesome because I’ve actually made a lot of friends just standing in line for all the free stuff,” Solomon said. “And at the same time it helps you figure out what’s around here because, honestly, I’m from Middle Tennessee and I don’t know anything about this place and this is helping me figure out where chiropractors and grocery stores and stuff like that, which I’ll need, are.”
Check out a gallery of photos from the event at the end of this article.
This was the 13th Community Showcase at ETSU said Gary Mabrey, Chamber president and CEO, adding there were about 45 businesses in the plaza in front of the ETSU library ranging from banks to grocery stores.
Mabrey said around 4,000 students, staff and faculty probably walked through the plaza Wednesday.
“It’s one way the business community says thank you, back the Bucs, Go Bucs and have a good day,” Mabrey said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Students who came upon the event were quickly loaded down with grocery items like bread, bagels, fruit and snacks and business giveaways like cups, pens, bags and brochures.
Food was also being cooked. Hotdogs, chips, a cookie and a drink were available from several vendors who showed up to provide students a free meal. Cotton candy was also seen throughout the event.
Bradley Denton, a freshman from Spring Hill who is studying to be a radiation therapist, said he certainly feels welcome at ETSU between the showcase and other university activities held throughout this first week of class.
“You come around and they just give you all this stuff and they make you feel like you’re at home again,” he said.
Solomon and Denton were both enjoying their experiences at ETSU so far even though school had been in session less then a week by Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s very beautiful down here and I think it’s a pretty lively place,” Solomon said. “The environment just seems welcoming, the wether’s nice and the classes seem to be challenging but at the same time very engaging.”